To avoid turning Lent into hard and senseless weeks of diet, one should keep several simple rules. The aim of a fast is to bend our body to our soul (to restore the right hierarchy of soul and body), to multiply love, to sharpen attention to our spiritual life, to train our will and gain our powers for spiritual fight.
1. “Always be happy, pray all the time, be thankful for everything”
The temptation to fall into despair is strong. “How can I live without tasty food? No more entertainments! How long the services are!” In fact, there is no reason for despair. Long services are at the same time the examples of middle-aged spiritual poetry, philosophical reflections on the human’s place in eternity, feeling of unity with other people praying in the church as well as communion with God. Often we can face the other side of the Lenten despair: “I cannot fast according to the statue. I miss services. I get distracted by secular vanity.” Remember that God needs our heart, not our legs or stomach. He sees in a soul the desire to serve Him, and He sees the weaknesses, too. This constant recollection about God will become our constant joy about Him.
A 4-DAY PILGRIMAGE TO THE HOLY LAND
JERUSALEM - BETHLEHEM - JERICHO - TIBERIUS LAKE (LAKE OF GALILEE) - JORDAN RIVER
DEPARTURE: 30/05/2018 LY 2432 18:10-19:15
RETURN: 02/06/2018 LY 2433 20:10-21:55
Meeting at Larnaca airport and necessary instructions will be given - departure for Tel-Aviv. Arrival and transportation to the Hotel in Bethlehem.
After breakfast, departure for a day journey to Tiberious lake or lake Galilee. We will first visit the well of Jacob (dialogue of Christ with the Samaritan girl), Visit to the Jordan River where the service of the blessings of water will take place - symbolic baptism of pilgrims. The Orthodox monastery of Tabor Mountain where the Trasfiguration of Christ took place, the Church of Cana (the first miracle of Christ), Nazareth (the church of annunciation). Return to hotel. Dinner.
St. John Climacus, summarizing the early Holy Fathers’ experience, calls upon all Christians “to follow the royal path”. It is also called “the middle path”, and, according to The Ladder of the Divine Ascent, it “befits many” (that is, it is suitable for every man). It is a matter of “patience while living in community”, which is relevant not only for monks and nuns, but also for Christians living in the world. The Ladder of the Divine Ascent is a spiritual treatise, written chiefly for coenobitic monasteries, so it focuses on the virtue of obedience, its fruit and wonderful examples (see The Ladder, Step Four). Obedience is absolutely essential for everybody’s salvation. Unlike virginity, unceasing prayer, or non-acquisitiveness, obedience is a “universal” virtue that is available to anyone. In this sense, we—lay-people—can find many interesting and useful things here.